Usher’s fifth album, “Confessions” (Arista), sold 1.096 million copies in its first week of release in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, and will debut atop The Billboard 200 this week. The tally gives Usher the best debut week of 2004, topping the 1.02 million copies sold by Norah Jones’ “Feels Like Home” (Blue Note) upon its debut last month. It’s also the largest first week ever for a (non-hip-hop) R&B album; Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” (Columbia) was the previous record holder, selling 663,000 copies in 2001.
As tipped here yesterday, the total marks a one-week sales record for Arista, beating the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard,” which sold 1.06 million units during Christmas week of 1992.
The news comes after most Arista staffers and artists last week were either cut or reassigned within BMG. Usher is among the acts moving under the Zomba umbrella.
Check Billboard.biz tomorrow for a complete rundown of this week’s Billboard 200.